Sunday, 25 September 2016

Part of the cool crowd?

Yesterday was just one of those amazing days.

It started out with my having to go to Bathgate to interview the person who took my job as she wants me to supervise her. I actually managed to find her place with only one slight detour, which is amazing for me. We had a very good session and will make up our minds over the next week or two. Then I had to zoom into Edinburgh to get ready for a dance class.

I'd booked to do a Mamma Mia dance workshop, which was 1.5 hours of full on dancing and was great fun. By the time that was finished at 4.30 a group of us went out for a cuppa together and I realised it's been a while since I was with such a friendly group of people.

After that it was a quick shower and change for my evening activities. A year ago I did a poetry course through the Poetry School with Ryan Van Winkle as my tutor and consequently I'm on his email list. He emailed me a couple of weeks ago about an event he was hosting called The Golden Hour Presents White. Apparently a few years ago he and his comrades used to put on a monthly thing called The Golden Hour, which was, what they term, a 'literary cabaret', but they stopped it after they felt it had run its course. However, they wanted to try something new and White was it. Anyway, it was only £7 and sounded like it might be interesting so I booked to go.

I arrived at the Leith Theatre to be handed a white, disposable boiler suit and a white garbage bag to put my coat and bag in. I was beginning to wonder what on earth I was in for, but sat down and put on my boiler suit. Sitting next to me was a woman and we started chatting. The upshot of that is that she knew quite a lot of the performers and people there and introduced me to this fascinating guy who runs what he calls 'a salon'. Every 6 months or so he invites musicians, poets and storytellers to come to his house (which is apparently huge) and they do their thing in front of an audience of about 40 people. The thing is though that no-one gets paid, they just do it for the love of performing in a safe space, so it means they can try out new work and get feedback and the audience is really appreciative too.

Then it was time for the event. We trooped into the hall, which was totally decorated in white. The walls, floors and tables were covered. I sat with my new mates, my wine in hand and there was a lovely camaraderie amongst everyone. Then the performances began. Singers, poets and groups all did their thing, with 2 intervals so we could go and replenish our drinks. We had some great performers such as poet, Vicki Feaver and I was quite taken with singer/songwriter Lake Montgomery. It finished with the band Withered Hand, who were fantastic, and at that point everyone got up and started dancing. Then all the tables were pushed back and we were given small pots of paint to fling at each other and paint our white overalls. I know it sounds a bit odd, maybe even juvenile, but it was so much fun, it really was. And after the band we continued dancing to a disco. I had such a great time and even better, Chris (the 'salon' guy) has invited me to the next one he's having in December.

I had to go and wash my face before getting the bus back to where I was staying as I was covered in all kinds of colours and didn't want to be stared at.

What a great night it was. I never knew these things happened in Edinburgh. My Scotstralian friend, Jim, had shown me a music side of Edinburgh that I didn't really know went on when he was over earlier in the year, but this was a completely different level. Jim's was far more touristy, this was unutterably cool and a bit more underground.

It's actually made me feel that I'm almost ready, at least mentally, to make that move from village life to city life. I might just end up part of the cool crowd yet!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Another week goes by

Robbie came and went, London came and went and I've stayed in Edinburgh as well. It's all been in a flurry of speed so I every morning I find myself waking up and wondering which town I'm actually in!

I had a bit of drama returning from London, where the new mobile ticket system (on my phone) showed the flaws in that system, but unusually I got a wonderful response from the ticket office at King's Cross, where a guy called Chris Brown, helped me hugely and restored my faith in human beings.

Prior to that, certain people in my life had caused me to wonder what the hell was going on, but I've decided to blame it on the full moon. Far easier than trying to work out the unworkoutable!

So now I need to settle down for a small window of calm before I have to go back down to London to help my mother transition (yet again) at the end of the month after yet another holiday she's decided to go on. The good news is that my brother has agreed that he'll also become involved in trying to help with my mother, which is a huge relief for me. The next hurdle we have is getting the Power of Attorney sorted out, but given that my mother keeps going away and the solicitor involved is also away a lot it's going to be a while I think before it gets finalised.

The other bit of news is that Odi (now called Poppy) had her 3rd birthday and the people who have her sent me this absolutely lovely pic of her looking so happy. The email I was sent was full of how much Poppy is a loved dog and it makes me feel over the moon to know she's found a brilliant forever home where she can spend her life doing what comes naturally to her, which is just being a dog.

A happy, happy dog!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Relax? Not much!

Well that's been a hugely busy week!

London was good in some ways. I spent time with the new guy in my life, which is in its early days and not sure how I feel about it all, but it's still going, so that's something. The rest of the time was spent with other friends and with my mother.

My mother was really ill when she got home, but in spite of feeling like that and hardly being able to get out of bed she decided she wanted to go on a planned trip to Northern Ireland with a group of people for a long weekend where they have to be up at 7 and things all day and night. I give up! It's so hard when she just won't do the best for herself, but she's scared of dying and so doesn't want to sit still. She's off to Sicily in a couple of weeks too. However, I've called a family meeting on Wednesday to see what care we can put in place that might be acceptable for her because she really can't cope on her own and I don't want to move to London. You may now call me selfish, but there you go.

So that's me off to London again this week.

Then my music pal, Jim from Australia, turned up at my door on Thursday just after I'd got home. We were talking so much (and I have to say a fair amount of alcohol was involved too) and didn't get to bed til really late. Then on Friday we went to the Linlithgow Folk Festival, where he played and had fun. We also went to see a bluegrass band, but they were just ok so we left at half time, and then we went off to another venue he could impromptu play at. I got bored at that point and left him to it.

On my way back to Edinburgh (where I was staying for the night) I got a call from a friend and we ended up having a great evening at Monpellier's in Bruntsfield and that was another late night.

Saturday saw me having an extended lunch with a friend that lasted for 4 and a half hours! We had a blast. It was at Thai Lemongrass in Bruntsfield, which has good, cheap Thai food.

And then it was home. I was exhausted! So much so I took today off to recuperate from all my activity and get myself ready for this week.

It's starting tomorrow when I've got Robbie the Guide Dog puppy coming for the day and we're going into Edinburgh for some training time and also so I can see my sons. Then Tuesday morning I head off early for London. Hopefully will get home on Thursday when I can take a bit of time out and relax. That would be good!

Unbelievably I now have plans in place for next year right up to October! It's freaking me out a bit, because in some ways, as there's a lot of travel involved, I sound a bit like my mother, which isn't such a good thing, but hilarious to contemplate!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Tales from Holy Isle and Vespa's birthday pics

The retreat went well and the feedback was very good. I took a picture of my favourite view on Holy Isle, which is looking down the pathway, through the garden and through the gate where you can (just) see Lamlash on Arran in the distance.

My favourite view

One of the most amazing things we did was go on an evening boat trip around the island. We never go round to the east of the island as it's a nature reserve, but the offer of seeing it from the water was too much for all of us. Grant, who's the manager on Holy Isle, was debating with me whether to call it a cruise or not. I said that if it was a cruise I'd expect cocktails and dancing. Well, the funniest thing was that, when we got on the boat, the boatman gave us all crisps and nibbles. Grant looked at me and we had such a laugh... I really was expecting cocktails to come next. They didn't, it stopped at the crisps, but it was a funny moment. Or maybe you just had to be there to see the humour!!

However, one of the other things about Holy Isle is that you can be guaranteed to find heart-shaped stones on the beach. There's heaps of them. But when we were round the east side of the island, there in the hillside, was a heart-shaped formation. It was such a surprise. Sadly, because my hands were so cold, it took me too long to get my camera to work on my phone, so I didn't get the best picture, but I do hope you can see it well enough. And it's not man-made.

Heart on the hillside

The day I got back was Vespa's 2nd birthday and I got a wonderful set of pics of him from his new person and his wife. It was just so lovely.

Vespa at 2

As a payback for their kindness I put together an album of Vespa's time with me and here's one of the first pics I took of him.

Vespa on 21st October 2014

He was so teeny tiny that it's hard to believe he grew to be the 32 kg tank he was when he left!

Vespa at Forfar on 8th April 2016

I'm now off to London as my mother is coming back from the Isle of Wight where she's been for the whole of August and being ill and in bed. I'm going to see her transition to her home in London and make sure there's food and generally checking on things for her. I'm hoping it's only going to be 4 days, but at least while I'm there I get to go to dinners with friends, which I'm looking forward to.

Hopefully be back at the end of the week.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Talk about stress!

This last week has been incredibly stressful.

My mother was taken into hospital, taken out again, been near to collapse and feeling great... so the whole gamut of being an elderly human all in the space of one week.

My younger son was in a production of The Mikado at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Talk about stressed... and that was both him and me! Luckily I can report that the show was incredible and he was absolutely fantastic. Phew! Relief, relief, relief!

I had a great couple of days going to things at the Edinburgh Festival, which included some very intellectual events about Compassion and also Philosophy and some music things too.

I've now got the lovely Folly, an ex-Guide Dog pup (who was withdrawn for skin problems and not for bad behaviour). She's incredibly easy to have as a house guest. She came here before when just a wee puppy and Odi was here. It's so great to have a dog here again even if it's only for 24 hours.

Odi and Folly when she was about 12 weeks old

Folly all grown up

Susan and Gordon (Folly's owners) are also boarding Meg, a 17 week old lab/retriever cross who is absolutely adorable. I even got a cuddle!

A cuddle with Meg

Next I'm off on a retreat, which I'm facilitating, on Holy Isle. The second one this year and the last one of it's kind that I'm running. Next year will be all change as I'm preparing a new 7 day retreat.

I have a bit of work today, creating a workshop for GP's I'm doing in October, and then it'll be full steam ahead for retreat organisation with a quick trip back up to Edinburgh tonight for a final Festival fling.

So hopefully there'll be no more stressful events this week... but who can tell!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Trouble with technology?

As some of you may know, I'm not all that fond of sweet things. However, when I was in Thailand there was a coconut and tapioca flour cake that was really delicious. They gave me the recipe and when I got home I made a batch, which tasted great.

I came across a coconut today and decided I'd make some more, so got out my trusty food processor and managed to slice my thumb in the process by forgetting that the grater blade is double sided and also has a slicer on the other side. I found out the slicer was pretty sharp!

Having got through 3 plasters as the wound wouldn't stop bleeding I needed to use my iPhone. I've become so accustomed to using my thumb print as ID to sign in rather than numbers that I'd almost forgotten what my numbers were!

Then I had a phone conversation with my friend Shirley and was bemoaning that I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to use my thumb print again as there'll be a scar, when she enlightened me that I can have more than one fingerprint - in fact I can have as many as I want.

I'm now back at being able to let the numbers go and can fingerprint my way in.

Good thing someone's read the iPhone instructions!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Dog pics

My holiday is now officially over. Work has had to be done in London today and again tomorrow and I'm finding it hard to engage my brain!

I promised some pics of Sara's dogs, so here's some for you:

Me with Clarence trying to be a lap dog and Myrtle getting jealous

Myrtle manages to displace Clarence!

Clarence displaces everyone!

Clarence is exactly the same age as Vespa, to the day. So he's going to be 2 on 30th August. He currently weighs in at over 70 kg and is still growing! Myrtle is only 14 months old and so she has an awful lot of growing to do.... it'll be interesting when I go back next year to see by how much.

And here's a pic of the house. It's right in the middle of farmland and is incredibly picturesque. They have loads of outhouses and stables both to the right and left of the house and many acres too. Just lovely.

The house from the front gate

The early morning view from my bedroom window looking out over the garden to the fields beyond